Show respect for educators by blaming the cheaters rather than the tests, argues Ed Sector’s Kevin Carey in The New Republic. Blaming the recent cheating scandals on the pressure to produce results is like giving Bernie Madoff a pass because he was under pressure to make money for is clients, Carey writes.
. . . every time news of cheating breaks, opponents of standardized testing and accountability in public education have been quick to deflect blame from morally challenged educators and aim it toward the tests themselves. When asked about Atlanta, noted school reform apostate Diane Ravitch pointed the finger at the federal No Child Left Behind law, saying that, when high-stakes incentives are attached to test scores, we are “virtually inviting” teachers to cheat. At the Daily Kos, readers were told that “the tests, and the stakes attached to them, are the issue. No rational person can look at cheating this widespread and decide its existence is about the individuals, however blameworthy their behavior may be.” One Atlanta-area teacher put it this way: “Anybody whose job is tied to performance, it is a setup.”
Testing opponents often invoke “Campbell’s Law,” which holds that “[t]he more any quantitative social indicator [e.g. standardized testing] is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures.”
As a way of understanding education policy, or anything else, Campbell’s Law is both inaccurate and banal. In reality, most people are quite adept at resisting corruption pressure, which is why the vast majority of teachers whose students take standardized tests do not cheat.
The good news, Carey writes, that “public schools finally care enough about student performance that some ethically challenged educators have chosen to cheat.” It’s worth lying about.